Look up to the moon. What you thought was a desolate place, reflecting the light of the sun, and looking down to Earth, is not as lonely as you may seem. In fact, there may well be thousands of “Water Bears” aka Tardigrades looking back at you.
In April of this year, Israel failed in its attempt to become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon. The Beresheet spaceship’s engine failed 149 meters above the Moon’s surface, causing the ship to crash into the moon.
But Beresheet carried a load that has not possibly been damaged: thousands of tardigrades, one of the most peculiar living organisms we have ever encountered.
The weird-looking organisms, under a millimeter long, have the ability to survive extreme conditions. They can survive temperatures of more than 150 degrees Celsius and are able to survive frozen to almost absolute zero.
And these mystery water bears traveled to the moon on the Israeli spacecraft that eventually crashed.
According to the co-founder of the organization that launched the spacecraft, the water bears are most likely still alive.
The experts have revealed that the water bears were “dehydrated” which placed them into suspended animation and then encased in an artificial amber.
“We believe the chances of survival for the tardigrades… are extremely high,” Arch Mission Foundation chief Nova Spivack revealed.
The Arch Mission Foundation keeps a digital backup of the entire planet, featuring human knowledge, the planet’s biology all stored on high-tech devices, and sent out to various places in the solar system, in case of a world-ending event.
One such backup, known as the lunar library, was sent to the moon in a kind-of DVD containing as many as 20 million pages of human history as well as human DNA. Alongside the backup data, the researchers sent water bears to the moon.
These mysterious creatures can be brought back to life after remaining decades in “hibernation”, completely dehydrated.
These animals are actually the first organisms that are able to survive in space. Therefore, they were the perfect candidate for the Arch Missions project.
“Tardigrades are ideal to include because they are microscopic, multicellular, and one of the most durable forms of life on planet Earth,” Nova revealed.
Although they won’t be able to wake up on the moon unless they get into contact with water, researchers say that it would be possible for future missions to collect the dehydrated Tardigrades, bring them back to Earth, wake them up, and study the effects of being on the moon.